Industrial innovation: case study of the Claerwen dam

Holt, Gary D. (2014) Industrial innovation: case study of the Claerwen dam. Built Environment Project and Asset Management, 4 (2). pp. 146-165. ISSN 2044-124X

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Purpose – Societal needs produce infrastructural demands that often, require innovative industrial solutions to optimally satisfy them. One such need is fresh clean water and this has been met in part, by a global infrastructure of dams and reservoirs. Dams have borne witness to their innovative construction design, technology and management (CDTM) over the years and the purpose of this paper is to examine an example of this, relating to Claerwen dam in Great Britain.
Design/methodology/approach – The study used historical case study method based on Busha and Harter's (1980) model, to accommodate synthesis of extant, historical and archive data. Subsequent archival data analysis is founded predominately on document synthesis and embraces a longitudinal character.
Findings – Benefiting incontrovertibly from industrial innovations, Claerwen was constructed in markedly different ways from its “sister” phase 1 Elan Valley dams built 50 years earlier, to uniquely combine vernacular aesthetic with contemporary CDTM of the time and create a reservoir with capacity almost equal to that of the entire phase 1 dams combined.
Research limitations/implications – Findings offset a dearth of historical construction research more generally; and that relating to dam infrastructure, more specifically.
Originality/value – Minimal literature exists regarding innovations in British dam building so the study is especially original in that respect

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